EPILEPSY: ”Dying Under The Medics Armpits”

Marijauna growing in Uganda

Uganda has granted license to foreign firms to grow Marijauna for export yet Epilepsy is soaring and is expensive to treat with imported drugs FILE PHOTO


KAMPALA, Uganda [SHIFTMEDIA] A new report by scientists indicate that at least 770,000 people across Uganda have epilepsy, majority of these in eastern Uganda despite known remedy within the country.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Epilepsy is a chronic non- communicable disease of the brain that affects people of all ages.
WHO reports that around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases.
Nearly 80 per cent of people with epilepsy live in low- and middle-income countries.

The Daily Monitor in its publication of April 5 2023, indicated that the countrywide survey conducted by the Makerere University of Public Health  is worrying.

The survey indicates that national prevalence rate of epilepsy stands at 1.69 percent.  The country wide survey pits eastern Uganda as most affected, at 2.16 percent, followed by central and western, both at 1.6 percent, while northern is less affected with just1.35 percent.

Youth At Most

Prof Fredrick Makumbi, the Uganda Principle Investigator from the school of public health said that there is a variation of prevalence from one region to another.

The prevalence rates also vary among patients in different age groups. The rate is high among the youths aged 18 to 35 years at 2.37 followed by those in the 36 to 60 age bracket with 2.33 per cent.

The prevalence is very low among children below the age of 5 years with 0.86 per cent.

“The major challenge this country is facing is lack of awareness among the population about the existence of treatment for this disease and these end up seeking spiritual treatment,” Prof Makumbi told Daily Monitor.

50 Percent Of Population Cannot Afford

Dr Daniel Kyabayinze, the Director of Health services at the Ministry of Health  said that the new figures of people with epilepsy is very high calling for the need for specialist and mental health experts to manage these people.

“We should intensify sensitization of masses not to stigmatize these patients because epilepsy is a non-communicable disease. It does not spread from one person to another,” Dr Kyabayinze said.

He also said that 50 per cent of the population cannot afford available drugs known to treat the disease, saying the government needs to work on availing free medicine to these patients.

No Medicine is Free

Dr Daniel Kyabayinze needs to know that Uganda cannot get free epilepsy drugs, yet reports (USNEWS.COM) indicate that costs for epilepsy medications, the world over especially in the United States where more people are suffering from epilepsy are skyrocketing. A recent study discovered that spending on antiseizure medications more than doubled in eight years for the government insurers, largely because of third-generation and brand-name drugs.

“While it’s very important that Medicare and Medicaid patients have access to these drugs, the cost to the system is significant and continues to rise each year,” said Dr. Deepti Zutshi, lead study author and an associate professor of neurology at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Doctors typically prescribe third-generation drugs because they are better tolerated than those that preceded them, with fewer side effects and less serious interactions with other drugs, the study noted.

Medicare Part D spending on antiseizure medications increased from $1.16 billion in 2012 to $2.68 billion in 2020. Meanwhile, Medicaid spending on the drugs increased from $973 million to $2.05 billion during those years.

Claims increased at a much slower rate than costs did, with claims growing by 29% but costs by 136%.

Looking at third-generation seizure drugs, Medicare Part D spent $124 million in 2012 compared to $1.08 billion in 2020. For brand-name drugs, spending nearly tripled — from $546 million to $1.62 billion.

The Solution is Right Here

It is unfortunate that medics are calling for free epilepsy drugs, because over 50 % of the population cannot afford available drugs known to treat the disease, yet we have solutions right here.

Uganda is selling home grown herbals that treat Epilepsy to Israel. Then Israel makes Epilepsy drugs from those plants and turns around and sells them to countries around the world at such exorbitant prices that Uganda cannot afford without begging donations from WHO and even Israel.

Imagine a tinny desert nation without any natural resources, with a population of just 9 million people helping a giant continent of 1.4 Billion people with more natural resources than any other continent on this planet.

RELATED: Top 22 ways Israel aided Africa in last three years

Cleared to Grow Marijuana

In March 2019, an Israeli company, Together Pharma was granted a licence by the Uganda Investment Authority (UAI) to start growing Marijuana in Uganda.

Industrial Globus Uganda has been growing cannabis (marijuana) for export in Kasese.

As per the guidelines, those growing and exporting marijuana, must ensure that the cultivation sites are not near schools, hospitals, or residential areas. There must also be security system with access control systems to avoid easy access to farms by outsiders.

Among the exports from the Kasese farm include Cannabinol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It will be used in the manufacture of Sativex drugs that are approved in USA, Europe, and Canada.

According to a Statement, signed by CEO Nissim Bracha, the company completed the first harvesting of Cannabis inflorescences at its farm in Uganda on June 18, 2019, and sowed another 10 dunams on the company’s farm in Uganda on the same day.

The harvested produce will be marketed to one of the European countries. Together Pharma Limited produces and exports medical cannabis around the world.


Similarly, Industrial Globus that injected in a whopping $5m (shs18.7b) in this project has plans to build a marijuana oil extraction plant in Kampala.

Though Marijuana remains an illegal drug in Uganda given its destructive effects when abused, it is widely used informally as a pain killer.

Lifehack.org, a health website, notes that medical marijuana can be used to slow and stop cancer cells from spreading.

The American Association of Cancer Research has found that marijuana actually works to slow down tumor growth in brain, breast, and lungs considerately.

In 2011, researchers reported that cannabis reduces pain and inflammation, and promotes sleep, which may help relieve pain and discomfort for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Uganda has joined the list of African countries with relaxed laws on the cultivation and exportation of marijuana for medicinal and industrial use. Other countries include South AfricaZambiaMalawi, Ghana and Lesotho.

More than 100 companies, both local and foreign, have been given the green light to plant and export marijuana in Uganda. A special committee was formed to screen the companies that had applied to get approval. Only serious companies were approved for the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Way forward

Ugandan medics should learn from the Busia locals who figured out long ago, before the white man’s research that Marijuana is a “wonder” drug. This they proved when COVID-19 struck and they opted to use marijuana as a treatment. Since Marijuana is also a proven treatment for Epilepsy (https://www.fiercepharma.com/marketing/epidiolex-launch-official-first-cbd-approved-by-fda-shelves-but-high-price-spurs-some) perhaps the study Dr. Kyabayinze needs to do is to go to Busia villages that were seen using Marijuana and find out whether or not they have a much lower rate, if any, than the average Ugandans within the same region that don’t use Marijuana, instead of calling for government to spend money importing drugs from Marijuana that was grown in Ugandan soil.

Dr Daniel Kyabayinze
Dr Daniel Kyabayinze, an epidemiologist

Dr. Kyabayinze wants Ugandan Government to spend money importing Epilepsy drugs, yet some of these countries from which Uganda is going to import these drugs at exorbitant prices ($32,000 annually/Shs119m) are the same countries which import Ugandan grown Marijuana from which they make the Epilepsy drugs.

So why ban a medicinal herb from local use, then go ahead and authorize it to be grown for export, turn around and import drugs made from the same herb which you have banned your citizens from growing and using as natural remedy. This is the colonial mentality that keeps us impoverished.

The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) voted in December 2020 to remove marijuana from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs where it was listed as one of the most dangerous drugs.



Shift Media News

Read Previous

TOUGH: Kuwait Bans Imams From Using Phones To Read Quran During Prayers

Read Next

PROBE: Museveni Directs State House Legal Aide To Explain “Shielding” Of “Corrupt Officials”

Leave a Reply